Bipartisan Coalition of Ten Attorneys General Files Amicus Brief Urging Circuit Court to Uphold Approval of Telecommunications Merger
- A bipartisan coalition of ten AGs (Rhode Island joined after the initial filing), led by Wisconsin AG Brad Schimel, filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in the matter of United States v. AT&T, Inc., No. 18-5214, urging the Court to affirm the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia’s denial of the U.S. Department of Justice’s request to enjoin the merger of telecommunications companies AT&T Inc. and Time Warner Inc.
- In their brief, the AGs stated that “[g]iven the historic scope of the $108 billion AT&T/Time Warner merger at issue in this case, it is notable that no State joined the Federal Government’s case or filed an amicus brief in support,” and urged deference to the factual findings of the lower court.
Michigan Attorney General Issues Cease and Desist to Charity Over Allegedly Unlawful Solicitations
- Michigan AG Bill Schuette issued a Notice of Intended Action and Cease and Desist Order to Maryland-based charity National Emergency Medicine Association and its president (collectively, “NEMA”) over allegedly unlawful solicitations sent to Michigan consumers in violation of the state Charitable Organizations and Solicitations Act.
- According to the Order, NEMA allegedly sent millions of fundraising mailers under the names National Heart Council, National Stroke Council, and National Alzheimer’s Council soliciting donations to fund research or grants and representing that donors were eligible to win sweepstakes, yet used donated funds almost exclusively to fund additional mailings and had not selected a sweepstakes winner since 2013.
- Under the terms of the order, NEMA must cease and desist unlawful solicitations and cooperate in settlement negotiations or be subject to a civil action for restitution, civil fines, litigation costs, and injunctive relief.
California Enacts Law to Strengthen Consumer Protections for Service Members
- Assembly Bill 3212 (“AB 3212”), which had been sponsored by California AG Xavier Becerra, was enacted to amend the state Military and Veterans Code to provide greater protections to all California service members, as well as their families, while on active duty.
- AB 3212 becomes effective immediately and extends the length of time that service members are protected against foreclosure, eviction, repossession, and default judgments, and also extends interest rate protections for student loans, among other things.
New York Attorney General, FTC Obtain Court Order Permanently Banning Debt Collectors From Industry Over Allegedly Illegal Collection Practices
- New York AG Barbara Underwood and the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) jointly obtained a court order against debt collection companies Vantage Point Services, LLC, Payment Management Solutions, Inc., Bonified Payments Solutions Inc., and individual principals of each company over alleged deceptive and abusive debt collection practices in violation of state consumer protection laws and the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and FTC Act.
- According to the complaint, the companies allegedly made false representations regarding their identities, addresses, and business purposes to consumers; made false and unsubstantiated threats of arrest or other dire consequences for failure to pay debt; unlawfully contacted debtors’ friends, family, and coworkers; failed to provide required information to consumers; and charged unlawful processing fees.
- Under the court orders, the companies are banned from operating and must destroy all consumer information in their possession. Vantage Point Services and Payment Management Solutions and their named principals are required to pay $27 million in restitution and damages; Bonified Payments Solutions Inc. was ordered to pay $22.5 million but the judgment was suspended due to inability to pay.
Washington Attorney General Sues Allegedly Unlicensed Debt Collection Companies
- Washington AG Bob Ferguson filed a lawsuit against debt collection companies EGP Investments, LLC, JPRD Investments, LLC, The Collection Group, LLC, Fair Resolutions, Inc., and the companies’ owner for allegedly operating without a license in violation of the state Collection Agency Act, which also constitutes a violation of the state Consumer Protection Act.
- According to the complaint, the companies engaged in debt buying—purchasing the rights to consumer debt at a fraction of the value—and then suing to collect the full amount of the debt without being licensed in the state as collection agencies.
- The complaint seeks civil penalties of up to $2,000 per violation of the Consumer Protection Act, restitution to consumers, and a permanent injunction, among other things.
Labor & Employment
Massachusetts Attorney General Settles with Home Care Company Over Alleged Failure to Pay Overtime and Travel Time
- Massachusetts AG Maura Healey reached a settlement with home care company Petra Health Care LLC and its managers (collectively, “Petra Health Care”) for allegedly failing to pay employees for overtime and travel time in violation of state wage and labor laws.
- According to the AG’s office, 175 Petra Health Care employees were not paid for time spent traveling between client visits or for overtime between 2014 and 2017.
- According to the AG’s office, under the terms of the settlement Petra Health Care will pay penalties and restitution to employees totaling $217,335.
Massachusetts Attorney General Settles with Medical Transportation Service Over Alleged Wage Violations
- Massachusetts AG Healey settled with medical transportation service Quantum Transportation LLC and its managers (collectively, “Quantum”) over allegations that Quantum misclassified employees and failed to pay overtime in violation of state wage and labor laws.
- According to the AG’s office, Quantum allegedly misclassified its employees as “independent contractors” not entitled to certain benefits such as overtime under state law, and as a result failed to pay overtime to these misclassified employees.
- According to the AG’s office, the settlement requires Quantum, which closed in 2016, to pay $460,945 in restitution to former employees and penalties.